Best Snorkeling in Punta Cana in 2023

by Ray Roman | Last updated on November 26, 2023

When it comes to snorkeling in the Dominican Republic, Punta Cana snorkeling is excellent, especially for beginners.

Truth be told, many other Caribean spots offer better snorkeling locations than Punta Cana. However, if you are already vacationing in Punta Cana, you can take advantage of some very good spots that I’m sure you’ll enjoy.

These are our picks for the best snorkeling in Punta Cana.

Best Snorkeling in Punta Cana
Punta Cana Snorkeling

Isla Catalina

Isla Catalina is located 1.5 miles from the southeast corner of the Dominican Republic.  This uninhabited island is only accessible by boat. It is 3.7 square miles and has a yearly temperature of 77 degrees. This island is also a popular stop for cruise ships, so you’ll find private beaches here and the public beach on the small island known as the VIP area.

You can get to Catalina Island by taking a day trip from Punta Cana, Santo Domingo, or La Romana port. You should expect to spend around 10 hours on the island.

In the waters at Catalina Island, you’ll find coral reefs, the Living Museum of the Sea, and Captain Kidd’s shipwreck. The island isn’t just great for snorkeling tho, if you’re a diver, you should check out Pared de Catalina, a wall that reaches depths of 330 feet. 

A random, fun fact about the island of Catalina, pirates used it during the 1600s as a refuge where they would wait for Spanish ships to sail nearby and attack and rob them.

This destination should be on your list regarding the best snorkeling in Punta Cana.  

Bay of Samaná

Samana Bay is the second-largest bay in the Dominican Republic, fed by the Yuna River. It is one of two bays on our list that is an excellent place to whale watch.

Discussed later in our list is Cayo Levantado, which is one of this bay’s most popular areas for snorkeling.  

Whale watching at this bay happens between January and March every year.  They expect around 1500 humpback whales to make the journey to the bay, where they mate and give birth.

Samana Bay is a marine sanctuary providing a safe space for whales and all sorts of marine life.

Cayo Arena

Cayo Arena has some of the most plentiful marine life in the Dominican Republic, boasting schools of surgeonfish, sergeant majors, yellowtail snappers, angelfish, and more!

Cayo Arena is a wonderful place for beginner-level snorkelers or divers, offering an opportunity to see the fish we’ve already mentioned and octopus and crabs too!

You can snorkel at Cayo Arena by catching a boat tour departing from La Isabela’s bay or Punta Rucia.  This is a popular spot, so you may consider bringing your snorkeling gear in case there isn’t enough. 

Saona Island

Part of the East National Park, Saona Island, is located on the southeastern tip of the Dominican Republic. The beaches at Saona Island attract more visitors than all the other national parks in the country combined.  To access the island, you’ll need a boat but don’t worry; there are plenty of options for a boat tour out of Bayahibe village. 

If you’d rather not be tied down to an excursion schedule, you can stay on the island in the small fishing village of Mano Juan.  The accommodation options are limited; however, so make your reservations as early as possible.

While snorkeling is an option for some of the boat tours, and this island does have a shipwreck for you to see while snorkeling, the marine life is more plentiful in some of the other destinations we have listed.  If you’re a beginner, this may be a great place to “get your feet wet.”

Sosua Beach

A large benefit of snorkeling at Sosua Beach is that there are areas that will not require a boat.  The beach has abundant shallow water areas perfect for snorkeling without being held to the schedule of a boat excursion.

One of the most popular snorkeling locations in the area is called Canyon, or Los Cabezos, as the locals call it.  In some areas, the water can get as deep as 30 feet. 

The best snorkeling around Sosua Beach can be found at Three Rocks, a 7-minute boat ride from the beach and requires booking a boating excursion.

Three Rocks is located about 300 meters from the Imbert Beach coast and has three large rocks with coral and much tropical fish. 

Silver Bank

The Silver Bank has been designated as a marine sanctuary and is one of only three places where humans can swim and snorkel with whales!

The Silver Bank provides a safe place for North Atlantic Humpback whales to mate and rear their young.  The whales visit Silver Bank between January and April.  

This once-in-a-lifetime experience can be booked through a few different whale-watching groups in the area.  

Playa Rincon

Playa Rincon is a less popular destination in the Dominican Republic because it is far from popular tourist areas.  If you’re looking for an area that’s less crowded, this is a great option. It has 3 miles of undeveloped beautiful, white sand beach.

The west side of the beach has calm, quiet waters perfect for snorkeling and sunbathing, while the northern side has more rough waters perfect for bodysurfing.  

You can get to Play Rincon by boat or car.  The road to Playa Rincon is curvy but well-maintained and offers incredible countryside views.

There are plenty of small towns along the way where you could stop for a bite to eat or a leisurely stroll and might even find yourself at yet another beautiful Dominican Republic beach. 

Boca Chica

Boca Chica is located 19 miles east of Santa Domingo.  A coral reef protects the large bay, and the sea is just about waist-deep in most areas.

There is a great amount of marine life to be seen in this bay, including hard and soft corals, sponges, reef fish, starfish, seahorses, and so much more. 

If you’re a diver, two popular areas for diving are Coral Garden and El Letrero.  These locations have good visibility and healthy coral reefs full of batfish, nudibranchs, lobsters, catsharks, toadfish, and jellyfish. 

Cayo Levantado

Cayo Levantado is a small island off the southern coast of the Samana Peninsula.  Cayo Levantado is one of the best options for snorkeling in the Dominican Republic.

To reach Cayo Levantado, you’ll need to take a boat tour which will give you access to the island’s public beaches, or you can book a stay on the island’s resort of Bahia Principe Luxury Cayo Levantado. 

Staying at the resort, you’ll have access to the public snorkeling zones and the resort’s private beach.

The resort can also boat you to snorkel at Cayo La Farola, which is just north of Cayo Levantado.  Over 100 marine species have been recorded around Cayo Levantado, which include blue tangs, small moray eels, and peacock flounder. 

Playa Fronton

A list of the best snorkeling in Punta Cana is not complete without Playa Fronton. Playa Fronton is only accessible by boat or a two-hour hike through a forest, which means this area is rarely, if ever, crowded.

The waters here are full of corals, sea urchins, and other marine life, which makes it a fun, secluded place to snorkel.  This area is also great for rock climbing!

A random, fun fact about Playa Fronton, a season of Survivor was filmed here!

Best Snorkeling in Punta Cana

Punta Cana, and the surrounding areas, are full of beautiful bays and beaches just waiting to host you and your family.

Grab your snorkeling gear, sunscreen, and your masks (they are required in most public areas and public transport) and visit as many of these places as possible.  We know you won’t be disappointed by our selection of the best snorkeling in Punta Cana.

BTW if snorkeling is your thing, check out Best Snorkeling in Maui.